Turkey slams EU over migrant deal on eve of key Varna summit
Turkey has strongly criticized the European Union for not keeping the promises it made to Turkey through a comprehensive migrant deal brokered in 2016, calling on the bloc to transfer 3 billion euros to be spent on Syrian refugees directly and without any delay.
“We will put all the pictures [of refugee camps in Turkey] in front of them during the [Turkey-] EU Summit in Varna. We will them: ‘If you are going provide the financial assistance for refugees, then do so. If not, be honest with us. You are invited to visit all the refugee camps. Don’t keep delaying it; give us the money,’” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in a meeting in Ankara on March 19.
Erdoğan will meet European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in Bulgaria’s Varna at a summit on March 26. The last time a similar meeting took place was in May 2017.
The summit will allow officials from both sides to discuss ways to revitalize Turkey’s stalled EU accession process and to intensify cooperation on a number of transactional issues, namely the migrant deal, the fight against terror, transportation, energy as well as trade and economic partnerships.
The meeting will also revise the implementation of the migrant deal signed by the two sides in 2016. In return for hosting Syrian refugees on its soil, Turkey was promised to be given the full amount of six billion euros in two parts. The first part — 3 billion euros— was signed but only one billion euros has been transferred to Turkey so far.
Turkey has long been criticizing the EU for delaying the process and has urged Brussels to adopt a more flexible and non-bureaucratic flow of money for the second part of the financial assistance.
“This nation has an honor and pride. You can’t play with our pride. They think we are begging money. Turkish people are not such people. They are talking about unblocking the other 3 billion euros. We still could not receive the first part [of the payment],” he said.
Erdoğan said the EU’s decision to transfer the assistance through certain projects was not “an indication of goodwill.”